Clerics in Bangladesh finally took a much needed (and highly delayed) stance against the brutal Islamist attacks that have been on a disturbing rise in the country.
The Council of Bangladesh Clerics reportedly issued a fatwa against the killings of secular campaigners and minorities on Monday. The announcement came just as police arrested over 3,000 people in a nationwide anti-militant drive, bringing the total number of detainees to a whopping 11,307.
The Muslim majority nation has seen an increase in gruesome attacks targeting Christian, Hindu, atheist and Sufi Muslims in recent times. In fact, in the past three years extremists have murdered nearly 50 people, including liberal activists and bloggers.
Some of the victims were hacked to death with machetes and knives.
“The fatwa unequivocally said these killings of non-Muslims, minorities and secular activists are forbidden in Islam,” Council Chairman Farid Uddin Masuod told AFP. “We’ve said these killings are illegal and are crimes against humanity.”
He said over 100,000 imams and clerics endorsed the religious edict denouncing the violence against non-Muslims.
“The fatwa clearly says these killings are not a just part of Jihad, but mere acts of terrorism,” Masuod added.
The council will release the decree to public on June 18.
The South Asian country has received massive criticism for failing to curb the religious violence. Just last week, a nearly decapitated body of an elderly Hindu priest was found in a rice field while a Hindu monastery worker was hacked to death, according to News 24. Moreover, a Christian grocer was also murdered near a church.
While the fatwa is definitely a prominent step toward creating religious peace in Bangladesh, the question is, will it really work? Killing someone (outside of combat) is forbidden in Islam, but that does not stop extremists from doing so.
What about those who have already been radicalized? The edict might work for moderates, but the country would need to take some drastic steps to eliminate the aggression.
Over the weekend, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina vowed to catch “each and every killer,” accusing the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and its Islamist ally Jamaat-e-Islami of destabilizing the country.